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Injury epidemiology and prevention in youth rugby union (PhD Academy Award)
  1. Craig Barden1,2
  1. 1Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  2. 2School of Natural, Social and Sport Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Craig Barden, Department for Health, University of Bath - Claverton Down Campus, Bath GL2 9HW, UK; cbarden{at}

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What did I do?

This mixed-methods thesis assessed the implementation and effectiveness of the Activate injury prevention exercise programme in English schoolboy rugby union. Activate is a rugby-specific warm-up designed to be used three times per week prior to training and games.1

Initially, I conducted a systematic review investigating the implementation of rugby injury prevention strategies2 to inform and develop the following research questions (figure 1):

  • What are the knowledge, perceptions and awareness of schoolboy rugby coaches towards injury prevention, risk and Activate?

  • Does attending an Activate workshops change these perceptions and affect Activate implementation?

  • What barriers and facilitators are there to coaches implementing Activate?

  • Is Activate effective in reducing injury risk in schoolboy rugby?

Figure 1

Flow chart outlining thesis studies and their relation to each other (reference). HAPA, health action process approach model; RE-AIM, Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance Framework.

I coauthored the Youth Rugby Injury Surveillance and Prevention Project, to further understand the risk, types and mechanisms of injury in schoolboy rugby, providing epidemiological data to support the thesis.3

Why did I do it?

Rugby Union has come under intense scrutiny due to the associated injury risk and the prevalence of injuries, such as concussion.3 Various preventative strategies have been developed with one breakthrough being …

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  • Contributors CB completed this work as part of his PhD, which was supervised by CM and KS. Some studies were aided by further researchers, for which they are credited as coauthors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests The PhD was fully funded by the Rugby Football Union (English national governing body for Rugby Union).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.